Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to city council candidates in both Kelowna and West Kelowna to help voters get to know those putting their names forward. Between the two cities, 45 people are running for city councillor.
All candidates have been given the same questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is here and is being updated daily.
Election day is Oct. 15.
Kelowna candidate: Anthony Shephard
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
A councillor's first job is to listen to the residents of Kelowna. Our job isn’t to be an expert in a certain area. I am a network engineer by training but would defer to experts hired by the city on those issues as many have different views or opinions. Councillors present these different options to the residents and then listen and vote the way the majority wants, then acts. The residents are our customers and as a past business owner I understand that you ask your customers, you don’t tell them.
We need to have an open mind not think that we, as an individual know best, we speak for the residents. For example, telling residents that we need to have less cars, are you going to socially engineer cars away? Politicians are not our masters they are our servants and I am tired of being treated as if it were the other way around, aren’t you?
In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing city hall only has so much power?
Crime is one of the biggest problems. The best reasonably current example of crime reduction was New York City in the 90’s. The plan was simple don’t tolerate small and petty crime or rundown properties. If you break the law you were arrested and punished. Children learn very quickly if you behave badly you are punished and they stop the bad behaviour, Some take longer to learn that lesson but most eventually do.
If you don’t punish stealing a bike from your yard. They learn they can steal from your yard. Your parked car, your shed, your house, and eventually from you directly. Lesson, steal get a reward (what you stole), if caught no punishment, simple. We need to change the lesson.
There is a balance between the rights of people who are accused and your rights, the problem is the balance is wrong. Always choose the rights of the public. Any violent criminal must be put away for the public's protection. As a councillor I will holler loud, long, and persistently. The RCMP should charge everyone who commits an offense, no more warnings or “it is just too much paperwork." If Crown prosecutors and judges have discretion then always consider risk to the public first. Your rights come first if not we need to change the law. More here
It could be decades before a second bridge is built across Okanagan Lake. How do you deal with Kelowna's transportation bottleneck in the meantime?
First face facts. Unless there is some unforeseen calamity or tech breakthrough we are going to have more cars and traffic. Car dealers have spent millions on new dealerships; it isn’t to sell ice cream. Tourists will drive here. New houses have garages and more places are being built on the edges of town. People who own houses have cars; most are not going to take transit or bike in the cold and rain. There is no viable alternative in the foreseeable future to private vehicle use. These are facts. Stop trying to change people, give them what they need and that is better traffic flow and accessibility. Eliminate Abbot Street crossing (pedestrian overpass). Then shallow underpass overpass at both Water St. and Ellis St. This will help the bottleneck coming into town and flow traffic into and out of city centre.
Is HOV working? I see almost half are singles. Improving bike lanes and transit is a great idea but it won’t fix everything. A second crossing and probably a bypass out along Knox Mountain out towards Hwy 33, or where experts can show it is best suited. Then we need a referendum for our share, it will be a big expensive decision, one we should all have a direct say in.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
No, just growing wrong. Who buys a $3 million condo? I think those are reserved for people moving here with money. If you build $350,000-400,000 dollar condos and some affordable single family homes they can be bought by locals hoping to start a family or someone downsizing, sometimes opening up a single family starter for a family. Let’s find a ratio and make developers build to what we need not what they want. If the existing developers won’t do it then we should attract new developers. Small city centres with amenities close by may help traffic etc. however people still want to go to the mall, theatre, beach, Costco etc.
Building taller is ok but we need to be mindful of the impacts for our existing residents and our infrastructure, 10 units doesn’t impact water and sewer like 150 units will. Land is expensive but so is all the stuff we need to put under it. Infrastructure needs to be planned and built out before we grow much more, more developments out of town continues to put greater strain on our already over taxed areas. Traffic downtown is because of more cars coming from the edge of town added to everyone else. We can’t keep building new floors on top of an old structure without looking at the foundation.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
The ratio I spoke about earlier might need to be broken down further. How about making a certain number of at risk housing available in every new development similar to how we ask for parks and green space. For every 50 or 100 new lots, one should be put aside for at-risk housing. Instead of putting people at risk in centralized areas we need them to be integrated into our society as a whole. Single mothers shouldn’t all be living in one area they should be spread out through the community just like everyone else.
Look at adding more carriage house zoning where appropriate. Look at revising secondary suite rules to see if we can provide more affordable housing for students and young couples starting out. The more we have the more affordable everything becomes. Competition = better pricing. We need to pay attention to possible unintended consequences extra units means more pressure on our existing infrastructure. More here
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
I understand that around 90% of the homeless were at risk youth, abused or in bad foster care. I have spoken with people who work with kids and I believe that in order to stop this cycle we need to intervene early. I would setup a fund to pay for kids in approved activities to subsidize or pay outright for their participation for three years at a cost of about $1,000 on average per year. I have been told that three years can help a youth develop good habits and decision making skills that will help them avoid life altering bad decisions. It isn’t perfect but if it could save a few it would be well worth it for the youth and the benefit to society. More on all these points here.